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Mol Biochem Parasitol. 1990 Mar;39(2):227-34.

Structural diversity in the 45-kilodalton merozoite surface antigen of Plasmodium falciparum.

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  • 1Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia.


An integral membrane protein associated with the merozoite surface of Plasmodium falciparum termed merozoite surface antigen 2 (the 45-kDa merozoite surface antigen), occurs in antigenically diverse forms. Here we report the sequences of the MSA 2 gene from two other isolates of P. falciparum. The 43 N-terminal residues and the 74 C-terminal residues of all three MSA 2 sequences are highly conserved, but between these conserved regions there are dramatic differences among the alleles. Instead of the two copies of a 32-amino-acid repeat present in the MSA 2 of isolate FC27, MSA 2 from clone 3D7 and isolate Indochina 1 contain 5 and 12 copies respectively of the four amino acid sequence Gly Gly Ser Ala. The sequences flanking the repeats also differ among the three antigens. The repeats in MSA 2 appear to be immunodominant during natural infection, and antibodies to the repeat regions of different alleles react with a restricted number of parasite isolates.

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